The chapel is oriented with the main façade to the south and the apse to the north, and consists of two distinct masonry buildings, presumably built in different periods: the oldest portion with a square plan was probably built in 1681 (date printed on the flooring of the entrance), the apsidal portion is dated 1798 (date stamped on the north side).
The facade is painted, predominantly in a rose-coloured, has an arched tympanum with underlying entablature, two pilasters and an elliptical window with metal railing. The simple portal has two lateral pilasters that support a semicircular decoration that contains an inscription that is unfortunately no longer interpretable. On the sides of the door there are two rectangular windows with metal railings, one on each side. The plinth is in stone. The roof has different heights, relative to the two buildings, and is entirely two-pitched, with a wooden structure and a lose layer.
Internally the structure has a single room, has a Barge stone flooring and a frescoes ribbed vault with four lateral nails that host windows (two in the front body of the building and two in the rear), while the vault of the apse is divided into three cloves. The vaults have decorations that were presumably made in the twentieth century. On the counter-façade there is a wooden stage, equipped with a high parapet decorated with musical motifs, accessible from a wooden staircase. On the altarpiece there is a piece by the local painter Baretta.
Historical background and worship
What we know today as the Chapel of the Madonna of the Meadows was once called the Marene Chapel, from the name traditionally given to the rural region in which it is located. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on the exact year of its foundation and construction, but it is reasonable to assume that it is a period included in the first half of the 18th century. The chapel is mentioned in the report written in 1770 by the then parish priest Paolo Giuseppe Antonio Calvo who in listing the four churches, fifteen country chapels and the private oratory then present in the Scalenghe area mentions "The Chapel of the Marene, or of the Madonna of the Meadows under the title of Epiphany, located in the region of the Marene, proper to the Community, and has included the hermit's room ", from which we can learn the first two news: the characteristic of public availability of the chapel, as we would say today, or the absence of a noble patronage or a membership benefit, characteristics very common at the time, and the presence of a hermit.
In the same document, Don Calvo specifies in another passage that the administration of the chapel is not entrusted to him but that "The Chapel of the Madonna of Marene is administered by the parish priest Giovanni Mattà Bonetti who takes into account the alms of the same and uses them for the decorum/decoration of the Parish Church of S. Caterina and gives its accounts every year”.
Particular and unusual is the presence of a hermit in a small country town, which is why Don Calvo himself dedicates a special paragraph to the event in his report: "There is only one Hermit in this area, and he has his room joined with the Country Chapel of the Madonna of the Meadows, that is of the Marene; intended to serve both parish churches; At present it is Cristoforo Quffinato of this place; he has a black and almost clerical habit, that is, neither cassock, nor short, closed in front, and with narrow Filipino sleeves; and without a cleric collar.
It is authorised by the His Excellences and Reverend Archbishop; not being attached to any Religious Order, it has no other rules to observe than the Orders of the Archbishop and live as a good Christian; Midnightly he fulfills his duty by taking care of the lamp of the SS. Sacrament of the Church of Scalenghe, sweeping both churches from time to time, decorating them on festive occasions, and sometimes removing the dust from the altars; of the remainder, as far as It seems / I think so far, is of good morals; he does not exercise any other profession, except to serve the two Parish Churches and the said chapel and begging for food; he was not being given the entire custody of the furnishings and vases of the Churches, but only the custody of the Marene Chapel and its furniture; however he must also attend to the custody of the Sacristy of Santa Caterina under the direction of the Vice parish priest of this Church; he has never served in another parish, having dressed the gown of a hermit in this church in the time of my predecessor, never having left it: I believe he was appointed by the parish priest and by the community (municipality); he has no income other than a small garden, and some lawn tables, consistent with the aforesaid chapel; he goes daily to the collection of bread and every year to that of wine, without ever having been called to this. From time to time the Community gives him something for charity, (but nothing fixed), for clothing, for which he also makes up for it with the same fund of the aforementioned Chapel, so he goes every year to the collection "(of the wheat).
In a document written in 1791 by the parish priest / citizens of Pieve Agostino Battaglia, called "Note of the chapels in Scalenghe", we find confirmation of the good zeal of the hermit and the parish priest Bonetti in managing and taking care of the chapel, as unlike many others described in bad state of conservation or lack of ritual vestments and of the necessary to officiate masses worthily, this is cited as "La Capela della Madona known as the well-stocked Marene".
In the subsequent report on the state of the parish written in 1828 by the parish priest/ citizen of Pieve Theologian Giacomo Aragni of Scarnafigi there are more detailed indications of its interior: "The chapel located in the middle of the meadows at noon on the facade in the region known as the Marene, half a mile from the place of Scalenghe under the title of the Epiphany, vaguely adorned in the ceiling,
with squares, paved with Barge marble with two paintings for ornament, orchestra, and small choir has the altar made in the shape of a big pillar, where to the ancient erased painting on the wall
was substituted a painting representing the Holy Mary who presents the child to the three Wised Men, to be adored, composed he goes of two steps with the table entirely of Freemasonry, and for the sake of the ornaments, they are kept in a wardrobe affixed to wall at the right of the “Sacta Sanctorum” in relation to the necessary furnishings ... they are provided by the sacristy every time there is a celebration owing to the devotion of the faithful of the Sacrifices to the prefate, in short, everything is taken care of by those who zealously preside over it as treasurer ”.
For what concerns the exercise of worship at the Chapel, there are numerous passages in the aforementioned reports in which there are references to processions, both from the Church of Pieve and from that of Scalenghe, and celebrations of masses in honor of the Madonna, through intercession, protection and blessing of the countryside and crops already in the eighteenth century.
With the decreasing, within the passing of the years, of the regular celebration of functions in all the rural chapels also in the Chapel of the Madonna of the Meadows, masses are now celebrated only during the Marian month of May, with a last particular memory not so ancient but beloved to the people of Scalenghe: besides to the main bells of the bell tower to announce the anniversary of the Mass to the Madonna of the Meadows it used to be added until a few years ago the delicate voice of the bell of the Church of S. Caterina.
Since the seventies of the twentieth century, the care of the chapel has been entrusted, and still is, to the precious work of Scalenghese associations and volunteers.